Category Archives: You are Here Stories

You Are Here Stories: We are Sardines

In the quiet, we huddle together and scold those who speak too often or above a whisper. I shift my weight carefully on the old wooden floors of the closet that protest with creaks at even the slightest movement.

Eight of us have piled into the utility closet off of the church parlor and are waiting for the rest of the “sardines.” Every muscle in my body tightens with the anticipation of voices or movement from the other side of the door. The must of old choir robes mixed with the generic old church smell that gets trapped in between the pages of pew Bibles and hymnals is particularly dense in our close quarters.

A paper palm frond tickles my elbow, the trunk of its tree standing tall in a bucket of cement. This prop is one of many artifacts left from Vacation Bible Schools and church events where the sanctuary was transformed into a tropical Island or the Sydney Olympic games, depending on what the Sunday School curriculum companies were pushing that year.

There are only so many spots in the church building that can fit all the sardines attending youth group on any given Wednesday night. Each hider imagines they will find the new, most secret of spots. Everyone ends up in the same rotation of hideouts: the closet with the Christmas pageant outfits and fake floral arrangements, somewhere under the pews in the choir loft, or this closet off the parlor where we wait now for the rest of the kids to find us.

Once I join the cloistered youth group members, the act of hiding alerts my dormant primal instincts to survive. We all become prehistoric cave people, sheltering ourselves from a wooly mammoth, and we communicate with grunts and nudges in the darkness of our enclosure….

Read the rest over at You are Here Stories!

You Are Here Stories: Powder Room Diplomacy

The year is 2007 and our bags are packed with “layering tanks” from American Eagle, flat irons to steam our hair into long, flat planks, and short denim skirts. The manufacturers have carefully ripped the skirts to look like the storied clothing item of a ranch hand or someone who has army crawled through a field of barbed wire.

Well, not ALL of our bags share these contents. Mine didn’t.

It’s senior ditch day and I have packed the few items I imagined would be necessary for the sort of girls weekend where we’d eat ice cream out of the carton in between fistfuls of Cheetos: comfortable sweatpants, a swimsuit, and a small bag of hodge-podged toiletries and makeup that I don’t intend on using…


Read more about my makeup woes at You are Here Stories.

You are Here Stories: Tongue Depressors and Other Teaching Relics

I curate a small store of relics from my years teaching in Chicago– crayon-drawn cards, apology notes with misspelled superlatives, and portraits where the size of my head dwarfs my torso. In one early drawing, a student depicted me with flowing red hair and a bikini. I have two guns in holsters at my hips and a rainbow behind me.

I’ve packed away most of my memorabilia in a catchall file in our spare bedroom, trying to organize and place memories from a time that spilled outside of any boundaries I tried to create for it. One lone tongue depressor has made it through three apartment relocations and three school changes. Each time, I considered tossing the stick, but I always ended up keeping it, laying it back amongst my pens. It’s small enough, important enough to keep.

It’s Corvell’s stick. I met Corvell in my first year of teaching, and he was my first student to disappear…

Read the rest over at You are Here Stories! This month’s theme is “Mess in Place,” which is a perfect topic for most human beings. Enjoy!